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Australia launches office to boost rare earth projects

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan. (Image from Canavan’s Twitter profile).

Australia’s Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, announced this week the launch of the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office, aimed at helping miners secure investment, financing and market access for critical mineral projects.

The office will open on January 1, 2020, and its main focus will be on rare earth projects. 

The Australian government announced that it will also commit A$4.5 million to fund critical minerals research by key Commonwealth scientific agencies

“The Australian Government will secure the future of rare earth and critical mineral projects, including those strategically important to defence end-use, with new financial options and a dedicated project facilitation office within the Department of Industry,” Canavan said in a media statement.

According to the minister, projects which boost the country’s ability to extract and process critical minerals will be eligible for financial support through Export Finance Australia or EFA, including the Defence Export Facility. 

He said that changes will also be made to allow projects to access dual funding through the EFA as well as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

“We are determined to develop our rare earth and critical mineral assets for the benefit of Australia and our technology-driven industries,” Canavan added. “By allowing proponents to secure financing through both EFA and the NAIF, we are enhancing opportunities for our critical mineral sector. This opens up new opportunities in trade and manufacturing, creating the jobs of the future for thousands of Australians.”

In response to the announcement, Tania Constable, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, said that her group welcomes the creation of the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office.

In Constable’s view, the office should help unlock Australia’s potential to become the leading supplier of rare earths and high-performance metals.

“Australia is well positioned to source and develop the critical minerals the world needs for faster, smaller and more powerful technology,” the CEO said in a media statement.